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Cross: all about cross country running


Cross country running, or cross (short for English cross country race or English cross country running, cross country flight or cross country running - “cross country running”) is one of the disciplines of athletics.

The cross-country route does not have strict international standardization. Typically, the track runs through rough terrain in a forest zone or in open space. The coating may be grass or earth cover. The course should be fenced with bright ribbons on both sides to separate athletes from spectators. At major international competitions along the tapes, an additional 1 meter wide corridor is arranged. In this gap are the organizers of the competition, coaches, photographers and journalists. Competitions are usually held in the fall and winter. Cross can take place in severe weather conditions, such as rain, wind, wet snow.

The length of the route is usually from 3 to 12 kilometers. At the start, all participants are placed in a line or arc. At a distance of 50 meters from the start line, the judge, using a pistol shot, starts the race. If there was a runner collision or a massive fall in the first 100 meters of the distance, the organizers must stop the race and restart.

According to the IAAF, “the cross-country competition season usually takes place in the winter months after the end of the main athletics season.”


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The birthplace of the cross is England. The history of cross-country running began with the game hare and dogs. The essence of the game was that one runner or a group of runners fled and threw pieces of paper to the ground, and the second group had to run after them along the trail of scattered paper. The first official cross-country competition was held at the rugby school in 1837. National championships began to take place since 1876. 32 runners entered the first championship, but later the race was declared invalid.

As an official discipline, the cross was held at the Olympic Games of 1904, 1912, 1920 and 1924. The most famous runner of that time was Paavo Nurmi, who won four of the nine Olympic gold medals in cross country.

Why cross-running is useful

Cross-country running has a number of differences from other types of running. During training, the joints and muscles do not work as intensively as the legs touch the ground - a softer surface than asphalt. Professional runners regularly practice cross-country races to allow their knees to recover and rest.

Thanks to cross-country running, the body receives a payload:

  • increases the strength endurance of the body,
  • the cardiovascular system improves
  • physical tone increases
  • muscle corset is strengthened,
  • the psychological state is normalized - regular cross-country runs help to more easily counteract stresses, relieve nervousness and depressed mood,
  • self-discipline rises
  • extra kilograms are burned, the body becomes more slender and fit.

Cross-country running involves a lot of muscles, and with a competent approach, a gradual increase in the pace and duration of runs, it will serve as a first-class means of keeping your body in great shape. In this case, the probability of getting a concussion, sprain or harmful load on the joints is practically absent.

How to start running cross

Beginning runners need to know some rules that allow you to get high results and achieve the desired benefits from training. Cross-country running involves a gradual increase in physical activity, like any other type of running. At first, it is recommended that you simply walk at a fast pace to thoroughly study the route and adapt to the loads.

The first 2-3 months, it is desirable to choose a route that will not be replete with endless descents and ascents. When running through the hills, the heart trains well, but this form of stress can harm an unprepared body. The best option would be a forest path or any other relatively flat track, on which there are small hills and gullies.

Over time, the body will adapt to the loads, the heartbeat will be calm even with a high intensity of running, muscle tone will increase and it will be possible to run along a more difficult route. In addition, you need to increase the duration of the race every day. If in the first days a short 20-minute distance is enough, then in a month you should bring the training time to 1-1.5 hours, while running twice a week and this is a minimum. Such exercises will bring maximum benefits to the body.

The technical side of cross-country running

The technique of running over rough terrain is somewhat different from the usual jogging. When moving on a straight road, you can use the standard technique - a straight torso, hands slightly pressed to the body at a right angle, the foot touches the ground with the heel first, and then rolls onto the toe.

If you have to climb, using this technique will be quite problematic, since the legs will have a very large load. To facilitate your work, you can run with a slightly bent body, but you can not tilt it strongly. In addition, you should reduce the stride length and move your hands faster. Hand movements will also differ from those with a simple run - you need to swing your arms wide, starting from the hip and lifting them high to the chest. When lifting, the ankles and feet are subjected to the greatest load, therefore, running uphill too often is not worth it, especially if the goal of training is to maintain good physical shape, rather than preparing for competitions.

During the descent, the muscles of the knee and lower leg work most of all. If there are problems with the knee joint, such a load must be strictly dosed. Overweight people also need to go down extremely carefully so as not to injure the knee. It is recommended that you wrap your knees with an elastic bandage - this will give them extra protection and avoid injuries.

An important point is the correct breathing technique. It is advisable to inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. If shortness of breath or other discomfort occurs, you can try to breathe only with your mouth. Heart rate increased? So, you need to reduce the pace of running, or temporarily switch to walking until the heart stops popping out of the chest.

Cross-country equipment

Cross country running requires special gear. First of all, this applies to shoes. If you have to run on gravel, ordinary sports sneakers that are used when running in the gym or at the stadium are quite suitable. If the route lies through rocky terrain, you need to choose shoes with a thick, durable and elastic sole. In such shoes, sharp blows against stones and roughness will not occur, while the landing will be comfortable.

During a cross-country race, falls often occur due to road bumps. Therefore, it is important to provide protection for the hands, elbows and knees - such equipment can be found in any sporting goods store.

Headwear should also be taken care of. In sunny weather, it is recommended to wear a cap with a visor to protect your eyes from bright sunlight and avoid getting a heat stroke. In addition, it will not be superfluous to wear sunglasses. They will not only prevent the blinding sun, but also protect from insects, dust and small stones.

Clothing needs to be selected by season. It should not be too tight, but it is also impossible for it to hang on the body. The main requirement for clothes is a feeling of comfort. When running through the forest, it is advisable to use clothes with long sleeves - it will protect against insects and tree branches. In cloudy weather, it is recommended that you bring a raincoat or waterproof jacket with you.